Ontario Electrical League

May 30, 2012 08:00 ET

Electrical Contractors Condemn Unjustified Ontario Licence Tax Grab

Ontario College of Trades scheme would unnecessarily duplicate licensing for electricians and contractors while imposing $16 million in potential fees

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - May 30, 2012) - The Ontario Electrical League (OEL) today condemned a potential $16-million annual licence tax grab proposed by the McGuinty Government's newly created Ontario College of Trades.

In an open letter to Bob Guthrie, Chief Executive Officer and Registrar of the College, the OEL states that the proposal would duplicate existing licensing for electrical contractors and master electricians in Ontario. The College to date has provided no rationale for this nor outlined any benefits and services that would be provided in return for the extra fees, proposed to begin next year.

"There is no value being added in this new tax on Ontario's tradespeople," said Stephen Sell, President of the Ontario Electrical League. "Our members already are subject to a respected Contractor Licencing program that ensures electrical work is done safely, in accordance with regulations, and by qualified tradespeople."

The unelected College of Trades - a new, McGuinty Government-created bureaucracy with the power to force Ontario's tradespeople to pay licensing fees - has proposed obligatory new licence fees of up to $200 per year on Electricians and up to $600 per year on Contractors. If tradespeople do not pay these fees, they could be banned from working in Ontario.

Electrical contractors in the province already pay $365 in annual licensing fees to the Electrical Contractor Registration Agency (ECRA) as well as per-job fees, while electricians pay $20 a year. The existing system, which would continue in parallel with the new licensing scheme, is widely viewed as effective and comprehensive.

The College's consultation process for the new fees provides no context, limits the length of stakeholder responses to just 250 words, and sets an unreasonably short timeframe for response.

"The process offers no reasonable opportunity for stakeholder input," noted Sell. "Once again, the McGuinty Government has shown that it doesn't care about the trades - it just wants our money."

The OEL has asked the College to provide the following information so that it can determine whether or not the fees are reasonable:

  1. What's the overall annual budget for the College?
  2. What are the College's administration costs for the electrical trades?
  3. What are the College's cost per trade for administration? How do electrical trades compare to other trades?
  4. What are the specific, tangible services and benefits that journeypersons and electrical contractors in the electrical trade will receive from the College in return for the membership fees?

In his letter to the College, Sell explained, "Without the benefit of such information, OEL is not able to state its position on these proposed fees, and we cannot imagine that any other responsible organization is able to do so either."

The College is promoting the new licensing fees in a series of paid advertisements in Ontario daily newspapers. However, the ads fail to provide any substantive information on the scheme.

The full text of OEL's letter is available via www.oel.org.

Information on the fees is available on the College's website at http://www.collegeoftrades.ca/consultation/currentconsultations/proposed-membership-fees.

About the Ontario Electrical League

The Ontario Electrical League (OEL) is a non-profit organization whose role is to promote, strengthen and represent the electrical industry in Ontario. OEL provides communications, education, industry events and other services on behalf of its 2,500 members in 20 local chapters. League members include electrical contractors, electricians, apprentices, municipal utilities, electrical inspectors, distributors, manufacturers, manufacturers' representatives, consulting engineers, educators and service companies. For more information, visit OEL's website at www.oel.org.

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